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A quirk in Queensland's title deeds system means a former Brisbane alderman, property developer and auctioneer who died 116 years ago remains the owner of a block of land in Mary Street being resumed for a new underground train station in Brisbane.
John Cameron's property in "Esk Lane" off Mary Street has never been passed to his relatives, and under early title deed arrangements, the dead developer remains owner.
The underground rail station will be the Albert Street train station and will be part of south-east Queensland’s $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.
Cameron, who designed and laid out Brisbane’s first fully-planned residential estate outside the central city in 1898, is considered the father of the suburban residential house block in Queensland.
He was said to be the first Queensland property developer to propose dividing large blocks of land into small “lots”.
He designed Waverly Estate off Boggo Road in an area that became known as Dutton Park, close to the Boggo Road Prison. It was designed and created by Mr Cameron’s firm, Cameron
Brothers, then one of Brisbane’s leading property valuers.
Mr Cameron is still the registered owner of Esk Lane, which today is a short right-hand bend off Mary Street, known as 100a Mary Street.
Fairfax Media could not immediately contact a family connection on Friday, although his relatives still operate Crisp Property Valuation services in Brisbane.
The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, the body running the Cross River Rail project, has acquired the block of land so it can push ahead with the design of the underground Albert Street rail station.
No major work will begin on the Albert Street station until the second half of 2019. However, when work starts it will become the first new train station built in Brisbane’s central city in 120 years, deputy premier and South Brisbane (Kurilpa) MP Jackie Trad said.
“It will open up the southern part of the CBD and improve the connectivity with QUT, Queen’s Wharf and the City Botanic Gardens,” Ms Trad said.
Eventually 220,000 passengers will use the underground train station every week.
Ms Trad said Mr Cameron’s career was interesting as the young city of Brisbane grew from a penal colony.
“Mr Cameron was a self-made man of many talents,” she said. “He was a successful businessman, alderman for the South Brisbane ward, he published two books and played a big part in shaping the early days of our great city.”
Ms Trad said history searches showed Mr Cameron’s firm Cameron Brothers drew up Waverley Estate in 1898.
“He was involved in the creation of Brisbane’s first residential suburb, Waverley Estate at Boggo Road,” she said. “Coincidentally, that area that will have a new Cross River Rail underground station.”
Records show John Cameron was born in Launceston, but moved to Queensland in 1861. He began work as a livestock auctioneer before forming the historically respected property auctioneer firms Trundle and Cameron (with auctioneer Charles Trundle) and later Cameron Brothers.
He was a friend of Patrick Mayne, a butcher who also became a Brisbane alderman and who confessed to one of Brisbane’s most grisly murders while one of city’s wealthiest patrons.
Patrick Mayne became an alderman in 1865, while John Cameron's public career began a decade later.
He became a well-known figure in Brisbane’s early days. An amateur historian, Cameron published two books: The Fisherman: a guide to the inexperienced: how when and where to catch fish and The fire stick: incidents in the shearers' strike: a tale of Australian bush life.
His family also owned the Doobawah property at Ormiston, and he died in 1902, when he was buried in Toowong Cemetery.